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Military Power of the People's Republic of China

Office of the Secretary of Defense

Military Power of the People's Republic of China

A Report to Congress Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act Fiscal Year 2000

Section 1202, “Annual Report on Military Power of the People’s Republic of China,” of the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, Public Law 106-65, provides that
the Secretary of Defense shall submit a report “on the current and future military strategy
of the People’s Republic of China. The report shall address the current and probable future
course of military-technological development on the People’s Liberation Army and the tenets
and probable development of Chinese grand strategy, security strategy, and military strategy,
and of the military organizations and operational concepts, through the next 20 years.”

Executive Summary

China’s rapid rise as a regional political and economic power with global aspirations is an important element of today’s strategic environment – one that has significant implications for the region and the world. The United States welcomes the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China, and it encourages China to participate as a responsible international stakeholder by taking on a greater share of responsibility for the health and success of the global system. However, much uncertainty surrounds the future course China’s leaders will set for their country, including in the area of China’s expanding military power and how that power might be used.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is pursuing comprehensive transformation from a mass army designed for protracted wars of attrition on its territory to one capable of fighting and winning short-duration, high intensity conflicts against high-tech adversaries – which China refers to as “local wars under conditions of informatization.” China’s ability to sustain military power at a distance, at present, remains limited but, as noted in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, it “has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages.”

China’s near-term focus on preparing for military contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of U.S. intervention, appears to be an important driver of its modernization plans. However, analysis of China’s military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also generating capabilities for other regional contingencies, such as confl ict over resources or territory.

The pace and scope of China’s military transformation has increased in recent years, fueled by continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, and far reaching reforms of the armed forces. The expanding military capabilities of China’s armed forces are a major factor in changing East Asian military balances; improvements in China’s strategic capabilities have ramifi cations far beyond the Asia Pacific region.

China’s strategic forces modernization is enhancing strategic strike capabilities, as evidenced by the DF-31 intercontinental range ballistic missile, which achieved initial threat availability in 2006. China’s counterspace program – punctuated by the January 2007 successful test of a direct-ascent, anti-satellite weapon – poses dangers to human space fl ight and puts at risk the assets of all space faring nations. China’s continued pursuit of area denial and anti-access strategies is expanding from the traditional land, air, and sea dimensions of the modern battlefi eld to include space and cyber-space.

The outside world has limited knowledge of the motivations, decision-making, and key capabilities supporting China’s military modernization. China’s leaders have yet to explain adequately the purposes or desired endstates of the PLA’s expanding military capabilities. China’s actions in certain areas increasingly appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies. Actual Chinese defense expenditures remain far above officially disclosed figures. This lack of transparency in China’s military affairs will naturally and understandably prompt international responses that hedge against the unknown.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Key Developments 1
Chapter Two: Understanding China's Strategy 6
Overview 6
Strategy with Chinese Characteristics 6
Comprehensive National Power 6
"Strategic Configuration of Power" 7
Stability, Sovereignty, and Strategy 7
Balance, Position, and Strategy 8
Resource Demands and Strategy 8
Other Factors Influencing the Future Direction of the Chinese Strategy 9
Chapter Three: China's Military Strategy and Doctrine 11
Overview 11
Military Strategic Guidelines 11
Asymmetric Warfare 13
The Role of Secrecy and Deception in Chinese Military Strategy 14
Chapter Four: Force Modernization Goals and Trends 15
Overview 15
Emerging Area Denial/Anti-Access Capabilities 15
Strategic Capabilities 18
Nuclear Deterrence 18
Space and Counterspace 20
Information Warfare 21
Power Projection - Modernizing Beyond Taiwan 22
Chapter Five: Resources for Force Modernization 25
Overview 25
Military Expenditure Trends 25
China's Advancing Defense Industries 26
Foreign Weapons and Technology Acquisition 28
Chapter Six: Force Modernization and Security in the Taiwan Strait 30
Overview 30
China's Strategy in the Taiwan Strait 30
Beijing's Courses of Action Against Taiwan 32
Limited Force Options 32
Air and Missile Campaign 32
Blockade 33
Amphibious Invasion 33
Appendix: China and Taiwan Forces Data 36


1. China's Critical Sea Lanes 9
2. The First and Second Island Chains 16
3. Medium and Intercontinental Range Ballistic Missiles 19
4. Maximum Ranges for China's Conventional SRBM Force 23
5. Comparison of Outside Estimates of PRC Military Spending 26
6. Chinese Defense Budgets and Estimates of Total Related Expenditures 27
7. Surface-to-Air Missile Coverage Over the Taiwan Strait 31
8. Taiwan Strait Military Balance, Ground Forces 36
9. Major Ground Force Units 37
10. Taiwan Strait Military Balance, Air Forces 38
11. Major Air Force Units 39
12. Taiwan Strait Military Balance, Naval Forces 40
13. Major Naval Units 41
14.China's Missile Forces 42
15. China's Space Assets 42

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